People in costume at the Jamison Brown House are not exactly an unusual event with theater groups using the Pavilion buildings nearby. But when there aren’t any productions scheduled, the costumes can seem out of place — except when it’s Purim.
Purim is a Jewish holiday commemorating the survival of the Jewish people in ancient Persia in the 4th century B.C.E. from Haman, the appointed prime minister of the Persian Empire.
The Book of Esther tells the tale of how King Ahasuerus ordered his wife Queen Vashti to be executed after she refused to appear wearing her crown. To find a new queen, he ordered a beauty pageant be held and Esther, a Jewish girl was chosen. However, she hid her nationality and religion.
While this was going on, Mordechai refuses to bow to Haman even though the King decreed that to be law. Haman decided to seek revenge not just on Mordechai, by ordering the death of all Jews in the kingdom on the 13th day of the Hebrew month, Adar. Esther revealed to the king that she was Jewish and Haman was killed. Mordechai was named Prime Minister and the king granted the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
The name of the holiday, Purim, means “lots” in ancient Persian. The name came about because Haman drew lots to determine what day his plan would be carried out. Purim is a day where people are encouraged to dress up in costumes and have a public celebration.
To that end, approximately 60 people turned out to join Santa Clara Chabad for their Purim celebration — some in costume — and were treated to a feast, entertainment, reading of the Megillah (book of Esther) at the Jamison Brown House on March 21.
For more information on Chabad, visit their webpage www.jewishclara.com